Greene County High’s boys golf team was stylin’ this spring: Let’s chat with their leaders.

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

JEFFERSON, Iowa, May 19, 2024 – When our Greene County High School boys golf team members were leaving the school building this spring, heading for another meet somewhere, activities secretary Misty Bettey would stop them with a question: “O.K., what is the pattern of your golf pants again?”

“Argyle,” Nathan Behne and his teammates learned to answer.

“Yeah,” said Jack Hansen, “everybody but us seemed to know it’s called ‘argyle.’ We were all just saying ‘diamond pattern’.”

They had to get it right because all their opposing athletes, coaches and fans would indeed be asking.  All of them seemed to be impressed with the Rams’ red, white and black argyle trousers. “Since we started wearing them this season, every meet has coaches, parents and players asking us about them,” said GCHS boys’ golf coach Kyle Kinne. “Most want to wear them in their school colors.”

Fashion leader that I am in Iowa – you all know about my career-long advocacy for black & white saddle shoes and gold stud earrings for men – I had to check out these golf outfits. 

The Greene County High School varsity boys team warming up before a meet this spring. (Photos from Coach Kyle Kinne and the Ram Fanatic page on Facebook.)

And when I did, I wound up in a delightful 90-minute chat with graduating seniors Jack Hansen and Nathan Behne, two of our community’s best, busiest, smartest and most interesting athletes. “There are none better than Jack and Nathan representing our school and athletic programs,” said Dave Wright, the activities director.

Get this: Each of them participated in six different sports during their high school years.  Both were All-State selections in football, probably their best sport.  This final spring, they both golfed, are still playing on an excellent soccer team, and were key members of the track team — three sports in one season!

Beyond sports, both are National Honor Society scholars. Nathan Behne is president of the school’s Rotary-affiliated Interact Club. Jack Hansen got involved in speech contests the past two years and qualified for state large-group contests in both “group improv” and “short film.”

Beyond school, Behne is a lifeguard and shift manager at the Jefferson Municipal Swimming Pool. Hansen is part of a snow removal crew – “I’m not in the truck,” he said, “I’m a shoveler because I love being outdoors” – and he is also an occasional barista at the CHiRP Coffee drive-thru where his mother is part-owner.

Behne is the GCHS Class of ’24 valedictorian with a 4.0 grand point average, and Hansen is close behind with a 3.8 GPA. 

Both have ambitious college plans.

Behne, 6 ft. 2 in., 190 pounds and a sprinter, has been one of Iowa’s best high school football place kickers in recent years.  He is going to be in a rigorous pre-med program at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, where he’ll also be a scholarship kicker for the Peacocks football team in NCAA Division II. 

He probably would be heading to a NCAA Division I football program, but for a basketball knee injury in his right kicking leg in December of his junior year.  He had to do six months of extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation, first “to learn how to walk again” and then recover his strength and mobility.

“That was pretty devastating, especially at first,” he said. “But I realized I had to surrender to what had happened, try to get better and I did.  But I’d been to kicking clinics all over the country, and I’d been ranked 31st among kickers in the Class of 2024 before the injury.  After all the rehabilitation, I finally got back to being ranked 70th.”

He had a strong senior year.  In one of the first games of the season, he converted field goals of 42 and 43 yards.  Later in the season, he made one of 49 yards against Carroll Kuemper Catholic.

“I’m taking all the credit for Behne’s success as a kicker,” Hansen kids. “I was his holder.” (He was.)  Then, not kidding, he said, “I knew he’d make it back after recovery because he’s a real athlete, and he’s really competitive. We both are.”

Behne said he’s happy to be going to Upper Iowa, “because I’ll get to play right away there.”  And he thinks the smaller-school environment will help him focus on academics, in which he plans to major in biology and minor in chemistry, with hopes of eventually becoming a radiologist.

Hansen, 6 ft. and 155 pounds, was an outstanding pass receiver in football, with good speed and good springs. He broke a school record when he had 328 receiving yards in one game last fall. 

He’s following his love of golf to college, planning to major in the innovative PGA Golf Management program at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.  “There are two basic tracks in that,” he said. “One is in turf management and the other is more club management and becoming a golf pro for a club.  While I’ll play a lot of golf on some fantastic courses – they help you get internships all over the U.S. and in other countries, too – I won’t be playing competitive golf on the university’s team.”

And how’s this for giving something “the old college try”!  Hansen, all 155 pounds of him, is going to try out for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.  Really.

“I’m doing it just so I’ll be able to say I’ve been on the field at Memorial Stadium,” Hansen said. “It’s an open tryout they have in early June. The coaches run it, and it’s open to all students.  So I thought, ‘Why not?’ ”

His parents, Shannon and Todd Hansen, were only a little surprised when he told them. It’s sort of “classic Jack,” after all. 

“He’s not even scared!” said Shannon.

“When he told me about it,” Todd added, “he said, ‘Dad, I just want to have them tell me, ‘No, you can’t really make it in football here.’ Then I won’t always be wondering if I could’ve played at that level.’  Jack’s never been a kid we had to push to do something.  Sometimes we’ve had to temper him a little, but he’s always been one to try.”

The Hansens and Nathan’s parents Carl and Allison Behne have older children who were very involved in sports and/or other activities as they went through high school, although not as involved as Jack and Nathan have been.

Competing in three sports in one season – as both boys have this spring – “has meant a lot of late nights,” Todd Hansen said. “A lot of suppers being eaten at 9 o’clock at night, sometimes not getting home from road games until 10 or 10:30, still having to do homework way late. But Jack and Nathan now both have strong time management skills.  They both prioritize their educations and put academics first. They’re extremely diligent.”

Carl Behne, who is also head coach of the Greene County boys soccer team, said “for me as a parent, it’s been fun to watch them succeed in about everything they’ve tried to do.  Besides learning to manage their time, learning how to win and how to lose, learning from losses.  Another thing they’ve learned is dealing with the different personalities in the different sports.  All that really helps you the rest of your career, in whatever you do.”

Helping Nathan come back from the serious knee injury, the rehabilitation and recovery was both heart-tugging and inspiring, Allison Behne said. “Because Nathan has been such a competitor, his discipline and work ethic are really strong.  Soon after it happened, he was staying he’d do whatever it takes. I remember him saying, ‘I’m going to turn this into an opportunity,’ and he did.  He was also really good about telling us how he was feeling and what he was going through.”

Jack Hansen, Greene County High School Rams golfer.

Their coaches have appreciated all the time, effort and spirit they’ve seen from the two athletes.

“Jack Hansen and Nathan Behne have definitely left their mark on Ram athletics,” said football coach Caden Duncan. “It’s pretty incredible to think about the amount of practices and competitions they’ve had across all of their sports during their career, and the commitment they’ve shown in those activities.  It’s also awesome to see them not only competing, but being highly successful in so many sports.  I’m glad I’ve been able to coach them and watch them grow up into the fine young men they are today.”

There is a lot of debate about whether high school athletes – especially those with real talent – should compete in multiple sports or “specialize” in their one best sport.  Some say those who specialize have a better chance at college scholarships, or possibly pro sports if they’re really good.

“At Greene County High School, we’re more into education-based athletics,” said Dave Wright, the activities director. “We use our sports program to develop the whole person.  And being in multiple sports – multiple activities – broadens a person’s experiences and opportunities.

“It isn’t easy,” he continued. “I’m sitting here looking at the schedules that Nathan and Jack have had in recent weeks, and here in one week, they had competitions nearly every day.  They get a little tired, of course, but they learn how to deal with that.  And it takes a lot of planning and cooperation from our coaches and parents, too.”

That’s right, said Todd Hansen. “We have an unbelievably good coaching staff here who encourage kids doing lots of sports and activities, and they work out the scheduling conflicts. I’ve got friends with kids in larger schools and when I tell them that they say, ‘Are you kidding? Your coaches encourage that?’ They can barely believe it.  But our coaches do that.”

So, for the athletes themselves, is doing multiple sports – even three in one season – worth it?

Nathan Behne: “Totally.  We chose to do it – nobody made us.”

Jack Hansen: “Oh, yeah. It’s super fun to say we’ve done it.”

Three Rams — “Remi,” the school mascot; Nathan Behne, and Jack Hansen. (Photo by Chuck Offenburger)

As you can probably tell, they are the kind of athletes who can get away with wearing a wild style of golf trousers.

So, how’d that happen?

“My older brother Will, who is a golfer too, got me a Bryson DeChambeau hat,” said Hansen. “DeChambeau is a pro golfer who’s really good, and he wears these hats we really like. Some people call them ‘newsboy’ hats.”

Or “flat hats,” or “Ivy-style” hats.  Actually, they were very traditional in golf in earlier years.

Hansen showed the hats to their golf coach Kyle Kinne.  That started a conversation among the coach and players “about giving the team a new look.”  Behne said he and Hansen started Googling “crazy-patterned golf pants.”  They discovered the colorful “Royal & Awesome” brand, the players paid $75 each for them, and that’s what the varsity players have worn all this season.

Coach Kinne said during the conversations about the new style, “one of the players said, ‘Coach, if we do that, we will have to play well to back it up.’  Point taken.  When I became the coach last year, I tried to get as much knowledge as fast as I could about how to do the job. My brother Reed is a great golfer, better than I was, and he gave me a couple bits of advice: ‘Make them wear golf clothes.’ And, ‘If you look the part, you play better.’ ”

The team did O.K. in a cold, windy spring.  Several meets were played in miserable conditions. “Sometimes the wind was blowing so hard it seemed like a risk,” Hansen said. 

But they always looked good!

Here’s some more good that happened.

“You know what the best part of the golf season was?” Behne said. “It was the long rides and conversations in the school’s Suburban van, and being with our friends.”

You can comment on this column below or write the columnist directly by email at chuck@offenburger.com.

One thought on “Greene County High’s boys golf team was stylin’ this spring: Let’s chat with their leaders.

  1. GREAT quote by Nathan Behne!!! Green County High School is doing their athletics right.

    “You know what the best part of the golf season was?” Behne said. “It was the long rides and conversations in the school’s Suburban van, and being with our friends.”

    • City - Cedar Falls
    • State - IA

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